Holding Babies Changes Their DNA, New Study Finds

According to a recent study, babies’ genes manifest differently depending on how frequently they are held.

According to a new study published in the journal Development and Psychopathology, babies who are not held frequently are genetically deficient.

From five weeks after birth to 4.5 years of age, 94 infants were observed by researchers from the BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute and the University of British Columbia. Parents were requested to keep a diary of how frequently they made physical contact with their children and details about their behavior, such as sleeping, fussing, crying, or feeding.

At age 4.5, the researchers collected DNA from the kids. On a molecular level, those who were held less frequently and thus upset more frequently were undeveloped.

The kids who didn’t have enough physical touch had an “epigenetic age” younger than their actual age, which past research linked to ill health.

According to a news statement from the BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute’s genetics professor Michael Kobor, “In children, we think slower epigenetic ageing could reflect less favourable developmental progress ,” Researchers discovered that five specific DNA locations, including one that affects the immune system and another that affects metabolism, were repressed by lack of contact.

Although a similar study on rats has been done, this is the first study on humans to show the long-term effects on the epigenome of inadequate baby holding.

The study’s primary author, Sarah Moore, a geneticist at UBC, stated, “We plan to follow up on whether the ‘biological immaturity’ we saw in these children carries broad implications for their health, especially their psychological development,”

So the next time your grandmother accuses you of “spoiling” your child by holding her too much, tell her to stop and take a hint from our primitive ancestors.

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